CrabsI learned about this for the first time this weekend: If crabs are trapped in a bucket, they'll drag back any of their number that tries to escape so that they all share the same fate.

Stefan Jovanovich adds:

In describing his early days as a scuffler and then a scuffling actor, Michael Caine used the same expression. Among his fellow poor — friends, family and neighbors — "Whenever anyone tried to get a leg up, people would reach their hands — not to help push but to pull him back down. It was like crabs in a barrel."





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9 Comments so far

  1. Anatoly Veltman on March 25, 2008 1:10 pm

    We observed same for a couple of days: as commodities rested aimless at wonderful lows, that each of the contracts hit on correction from Mar14 records. People like Dennis Gartman, repeated every time that CNBC or Bloomberg would hand them the mike: "we are in the midst of serious correction, that is taking us out of our cyclical longs for quite a while!" This kind of attitude produced a phenomenon, for which I can't recall precedent: ALL listed futures lost Open Interest, per figures released yesterday, and today again!! In the meantime: EUR, CHF, JPY, DXY hit precise 38.2% retracement level yesterday. CRB index hit exactly the same; Gold, Crude, Soybeans and Goldman Index hit exactly 50%; NatGas, Silver, Platinum, Wheat and Cocoa exactly 61.8%; Palladium, Sugar exactly 76.4%; and Coffee 100%! But Fund managers who jumped ship and sold in panic, went out of their way to caution everyone that it would be highly imprudent to bid those levels!

  2. JK on March 25, 2008 1:39 pm

    Like the socialists!

  3. George Parkanyi on March 25, 2008 5:55 pm

    … or, perhaps like someone drowning, they are merely trying to climb up onto what they see as their only way out, and the first crab isn’t strong enough to carry the extra weight?

  4. jh on March 25, 2008 10:38 pm

    Translation: The Spider’s Thread by Akutagawa Ry√Ľnosuke 2

    It so happens that one day the Lord Buddha is strolling alone on the shore of the lotus pond in Paradise. All the lotus blossoms blooming in the pond are globes of the whitest white and from the golden stamen in the center of each an indescribably pleasant fragrance issues forth abidingly over the adjacent area. Day is just dawning in Paradise.

    In due course, the Lord Buddha pauses at the edge of the pond and beholds an unexpected sight between the lotus petals veiling the water’s surface. Since the depths of Hell lay directly below the lotus pond on Paradise, the scenery of Sanzu-no-kawa3 and Hari-no-yama4 can be clearly seen through the crystal-clear water just as if looking through a stereopticon.

    Then, the single figure of a man, Kandata by name, squirming there in the depths of Hell along with other sinners, comes into the Lord Buddha’s gaze. This man Kandata is a murderer, an arsonist, and a master thief with numerous robberies to his credit. Yet, the Lord Buddha recalls that he had performed a single good deed. That is to say, once when Kandata was traveling through the middle of a dense forest he came upon a spider crawling along the roadside. Thereupon, he immediately raised his foot and was about to trample it to death. But, he suddenly reconsidered, saying, “Nay, nay, small though this spider be, there is no doubt that it too is a living being. Somehow or other it seems a shame to take its life for no reason.” In the end he spared the spider rather than killing it.

    While observing the situation in Hell, the Lord Buddha remembers that this Kandata had spared the spider. And he decides that in return for having done just that one good deed he would, if he could, try to rescue this man from Hell. Luckily, he sees nearby a spider of Paradise spinning a beautiful silver web on a jade colored lotus petal. The Lord Buddha takes the spider’s thread gently into his hand and lowers it between the pure white lotus blossoms straight into the distant depths of Hell.

    This is Chi-no-ike5 in the depths of Hell and along with other sinners Kandata is floating up to the surface and sinking back down over and over. No matter what direction one looks it is completely dark. And when one notices out there in that darkness the glow from the needles of the dreaded Hari-no-yama floating up vaguely into view, the feeling of helplessness is beyond description. Moreover, the surroundings are perfectly still, like the inside of a tomb. If a sound is to be heard, it is merely the faint sigh of some sinner. The sighs are faint because anyone who has fallen to this level of Hell is already so exhausted by the tortures of the other Hells that he or she no longer has even enough strength to cry out. Therefore, as one might expect, the master thief Kandata himself is unable to do anything but writhe, exactly like a frog caught in the throes of death, as he chokes on the blood of Chi-no-ike.

    One day, however, something happens. Kandata happens to raise his head and spies in the sky above Chi-no-ike a silvery spider’s thread, a thin line shimmering in the silent darkness, gently descending toward him from the distant, distant firmament as though it were afraid to be seen by the eyes of men. Upon seeing it Kandata involuntarily claps his hands for joy. If he were to cling to this thread and climb it to its end, he would surely be able to escape from Hell. No, if all went well, he would even be able to enter Paradise. And were this to come to pass, he would never ever be driven up Hari-no-yama again, nor would he ever have to sink again in Chi-no-ike.

    Having thought thusly, Kandata quickly takes firm hold of that spider’s thread with both hands and using all his might begins climbing up and up hand-over-hand. From long ago Kandata has been completely used to doing this sort of thing since he is a former master thief.

    But because the distance between Hell and Paradise is some tens of thousands of ri,6 try though he might, he is not able to ascend to the top easily. After climbing for a while, even Kandata finally tires; he is unable to continue for even one more pull on the thread. Having no other choice, he intends first to take a short rest. While hanging onto the thread he looks down on the distance below.

    He sees that thanks to the efforts he spent climbing, Chi-no-ike, where he had just recently been, is now already hidden at the bottom of the darkness. He also sees that the faint glow of the terrifying Hari-no-yama is below him. If he were to continue at this pace, the escape from Hell just might not be as difficult as he had expected. Wrapping his hand around the spider’s thread, Kandata laughs in a voice unused during his years in Hell, “I’m saved! I’m saved at last!” Then he suddenly notices that below him on the spider’s thread, just like a line of ants, a countless number of sinners are following him, climbing up and up for all they are worth. When Kandata sees this, he momentarily freezes from shock and fear, his mouth agape and his eyes rolling in his head like an idiot. How could it be that this slender spider’s thread, seemingly strained even under the weight of just him alone, is able to support the weight of that many? By some chance were the thread to break, he, the egotistical Kandata who at great pains had climbed this far, and everyone else would plummet headlong back into Hell. For that to happen would be a disaster. But, even as he says this, sinners, not by the hundreds, nor even by the thousands, but in swarms, continue to crawl up from the bottom of the pitch dark Chi-no-ike and climb up the thin luminous spider’s thread in single file. If he doesn’t do something right away, the thread will break in two at the center and he will surely fall.

    At this point, Kandata yells in a loud voice, “Hey you sinners. This spider’s thread is mine. Who the hell asked you to climb it? Get down! Get off it!” Just as he screams at the other sinners the spider’s thread, which till then had had nothing wrong with it, suddenly breaks with a snap right where Kandata is hanging. So, Kandata, too, is doomed. Without even time to cry out he goes flying through the air spinning like a top and in the wink of an eye plunges headfirst into the dark depths of Hell.

    Afterwards, only the shortened spider’s thread from Paradise dangles there, glittering dimly in a sky void of both moon and stars.

    The Lord Buddha stands on the shore of the lotus pond in Paradise having taken in everything from start to finish. When Kandata finally sinks like a rock to the bottom of Chi-no-ike he resumes strolling, his countenance seemingly creased with sadness. Seen through divine eyes, the Lord Buddha thought it wretched that Kandata’s compassionless heart led him to attempt to escape by himself and for such a heart falling back into Hell was just punishment.

    The lotus blossoms in the lotus pond of Paradise, however, are not concerned in the least about what has happened. Those blossoms of the whitest white wave their cups around the divine feet of the Lord Buddha and from the golden stamen in the center of each an indescribably pleasant fragrance issues forth abidingly over the adjacent area. Noon draws near in Paradise.

    The End

  5. Lon Evans on March 26, 2008 12:09 am

    Yes Nigel,

    Self-realization can be liberating. Kudos for the work you’ve been doing.


  6. steve leslie on March 27, 2008 10:32 am

    Fascinating discussion. Is the act of the crab a desperate attempt to climb over the crab to get to freedom or one of genocide? How does a researcher determine which is which and is it anthropomorphic to assume that crabs have the capacity to discern the difference? I know that there are insects such as ants who work together to achieve a goal such as building ant bridges across water so their comrades can climb over the fallen who went before them. At the U.S. Navel Academy there is an annual task for the 1000 strong graduating freshman class. This is a marvelous and inspiring event to experience and one to truly cherish. The Herndon Monument is a 21 foot high structure that is greased with lard. The goal for the plebes is to construct a human pyramid that will allow a teammate to scale the pyramid and snatch a dixie cup from the top and replace it with another. The longest time to complete the task is 4 hours 5 minutes and 17 seconds. The shortest time is 1 minute 30 seconds by the class of '72. There are times when previous classes try to sabotage the exercise by hosing down the plebes to make it so much more difficult. Application? With respect to stocks, this is noticed in the formation of a base. stocks get caught in a trading pattern that may last for some time. The channel just cannot be breached. Then after enough energy is created or the formation is completed, the stock finally breaks out. As a result of the energy expended, the stock may rest a bit, pull back to support and then begin a new chapter and start to rise again. Some consider this wave 3 of a 5 wave pattern. This is also the most robust phase and where the money is made in a stock. The longer the base the greater the breakout. Sl.

  7. Nigel Davies on March 28, 2008 3:30 am

    Lon Evans wrote:

    >Self-realization can be liberating.


    It is evident from this and your other posts that you are confusing liberation with abdication. You see your Asperger’s ‘realisation’ as being something that ‘liberates’ you from the resposibility of interacting normally with people and being as rude as you like. In fact you are just abdicating the more difficult path, that of a ‘cure’.

    And before you start whinging again about your condition being ‘incurable’ I suggest you google for Valentin Dikul, the Russian strongman who cured his broken back. There is a choice in life to either hide behind excuses or seek to overcome whatever difficulties life throws at you. With the former you will never be anything more than a walking freak show with an excuse, with the latter you will join the ranks of the dignified and courageous individuals for whom whining excuses is anathema.


  8. Lon Evans on March 30, 2008 12:18 pm

    Nigel, Sounds to me like you need a drink. lon

  9. Lon Evans on March 31, 2008 2:59 am


    I’m sorry, Nigel.

    If the spelling in your last simi-coherent post is any evidence, you’ve had a few too many. Are you off the wagon?

    Come back when your sober, and, please, succumb to the installation of a Breathalyzer on your computer before you do so. It will save you the occasional embarrassment.

    Your response does seem a bit shrill.



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